This is what progress looks like.
Last Friday, when I had my mini-epiphany that I had been doing something while only thinking of myself, I began to get positive reinforcement from a lot of people around me which was great. I think I earned major brownie points with my Mom, as she has been suggesting a move to Sweden and/or Europe for years-on account of my citizenship, Europe is my oyster-an amazing opportunity I have never taken advantage of.
I had reached out to my family in Sweden, looking for information as well, and as I am blessed with an especially wonderful family, they came back with loads of helpful insights for me to consider.
Since then, there has been an ongoing conversation between my family and I, and I have continued my own research into the logistics of a move to Sweden.
At some point though amidst all of this learning and encouragement, I managed to turn things around as I am want to do, and made the option of moving to Sweden less about me and what I want, and more about those around me who have been supportive of the idea.
This morning, I learned a little more about the type of person I am. How I move through life. How I make my decisions. Where I find my sources of motivation. In reading this article, I was directed to an assessment, where I discovered that I am an Obliger. I am someone who LOVES to do for, help and please others. I am also someone who finds incredible motivation for action when someone else will benefit from it. When it comes to actions or decisions strictly for me and my own good, I often struggle to find the drive to engage in or complete them.
I know a lot of people who know me well would find this discovery to be a bit on the obvious side of things, but for me it was an eye-opener. It provided further understanding for how my mind works when I do engage in the world, and also allowed me a new perspective to see why I struggle so often with doing things for my own interest.
Being the Obliger that I am then, it is of little wonder why and how I managed to turn what started as a selfish pursuit of all things Sweden into something that was more of an obligation, or a should to follow through on, for the sake of others.
This is what I do. To a T.
Yesterday when I woke up, I spent some time reading articles written by non-Swedes who had moved to Sweden detailing their experiences, and giving some helpful tips to make the transition more smooth.
And then I grew overwhelmed.
Suddenly, my consideration of a move to Sweden had turned into something I should do, as I had now engaged with so many people, looking for information. I didn’t want to let them down. I didn’t want to have wasted their time for nothing. This train of thought, by the way, is a sub-branch from my go-to line of thought which is I Am Not Good Enough. How’s that for self-analysis?
From there I spiralled a bit.
I managed to read a few articles about letting go, that I have been religiously bookmarking over the last few months. I knew the best thing I could do for myself in that moment of overwhelm and anxiety would be to take a step back. I spent a good portion of yesterday in a slump, feeling indecisive and uncertain and incredibly frustrated with myself for lacking the ability to make a decision.
As is my habit, I criticized myself, and felt even more awful for it.
I still struggle with getting out of my head, a lot of the time. While I am a planner, and someone who likes to process, I can easily turn those characteristics into a pattern of over-analysis. When that happens, things tend to get really busy in my head and I don’t function well. I grow pre-occupied and moody. I beat myself up. I don’t eat. I certainly don’t sleep well.
A day out, I’m feeling more calm about things, even though I still haven’t made any concrete decisions one way or another.
One thing that has become clear to me now over the last week since Mom sent me the email about teaching opportunities in Sweden, is that I need and want (desperately) to find my footing. In all of this, I am still someone who is living life through a lens of fear. I’ve been doing it for a while now, and while I am aware of it, it is going to take some time for me to shake that lens off. To change my perspective. To get back to exploring and learning for myself.
Whether I stay in Ottawa, or move to Sweden, if I am still living through that lens of fear I am going to be just as miserable, regardless of the country I choose to live in.
My epiphany of last week was great, and it encourages me to continue moving forward and onward. I also realize though that I am not fully recovered and I haven’t completely healed. I am aware that that process may take a while, and will likely be on-going. These steps and markers in my recovery are wonderful and affirming, but I need reminders like the anxiety and overwhelm I experienced yesterday to reinforce the process-to keep me in check and prevent me from pushing too hard and too fast.
As I am the dictionary definition of a perfectionist, I have the tendency to want and need for things to be complete and perfect. I want to be fully submersed. I want to be engaged. I want to commit.
Life isn’t perfect though-something I’ve known for a long time-and me trying to control it to make it so often results in more frustration and fear.
As Imogen Heap sings, there is beauty in the breakdown.